Heavy metal always provides in our hour of need. The return of SORCERER seems particularly timely, such is the Swedes' noted mastery of an epic, classic and utterly ageless strain of doom metal that can hardly fail to resonate in an age of widespread mourning. Perhaps more importantly, however, "Lamenting of the Innocent" is far more than just another exercise in sledgehammer sorrow. Metal's ability to inspire and uplift hardly needs restating here, but within seconds of first track proper "The Hammer of Witches", it's obvious that this is as much a celebration of heavy metal as it is a funeral march. Weirdly, there is much joy and reassurance lurking in these snail's-pace hymns to religious misdeeds and spiritual torment.
Spiritual sustenance aside, "Lamenting of the Innocent" has one clear aim: to salute the power of the riff in as dramatic a manner as possible. SORCERER vocalist Anders Engberg has one of those flawless, soaring and undeniable voices that used to be an expected part of any credible metal band's arsenal. Today, his soulful bellow stands out as a blissful anachronism: where are the young singers like this in today's scene? Answers on a digital postcard to the usual address, please.
In the meantime, listen to the astonishing performances the singer delivers on this album's centerpiece ballad "Deliverance", the impossibly melodramatic tsunami of "Dance With the Devil" or the towering title track, wherein guitarists Kristian Niemann and Peter Hallgren hit a truly startling streak of shared chemistry: this is meticulously crafted and refined stuff, blessed with an absurd strike rate for killer riffs and as sonically rich, powerful and timeless as can be. If nothing else, songs as monolithic and emotionally supercharged as "Where Spirits Die" or "Condemned" (the Swedish doom "Hallowed Be Thy Name", in essence) provide a solid reason to get really excited about real heavy metal vocals and riffs plucked from the SABBATH-ian inspiration vortex.
And even though SORCERER seldom stray from the righteous doom path, there are so many subtle nods to classic '80s metal, to DIO and KING DIAMOND, and even to latter-day heavy prog ("Dance With the Devil" ends with a guitar melody that oozes OPETH) and even PINK FLOYD (closer "Path To Perdition"'s mellifluous intro), that "Lamenting of the Innocent" deserves more than just a perfunctory three cheers from the doom faithful. More than 30 years on from their legendary first demo (and five from their unexpected but welcome return with 2015's "In the Shadow of the Inverted Cross"), SORCERER sound authoritative and imperious here. If you give even the slightest shit about heavy metal, "Lamenting of the Innocent" will improve the quality of your 2020 tenfold.